For this trip we planned easy days with short mileage so that we could take time to really enjoy the woods. We started out on Sept 13th from the Lake of the Clouds overlook and walked down to an established campsite on the lake. It was a beautiful spot in an old-growth hemlock forest. The guys renting the cabin across the lake were really noisy, but otherwise, it was a pristine spot. We had great views of the Escarpment including the Lake of the Clouds Overlook, Perigrine Peak, Cloud Peak and Cayahoga Peak. The next day we hiked up to the north side of Mirror Lake. It was a beautiful cool and sunny day and we spent most of the afternoon lounging at a campsite that had more bear sign than I have seen in a long time –claw marks on several of the trees, shredded stumps, turned over rocks etc. We did not, however, have any night time visitors other than mice and chipmunks. The next day we moved on to a quiet spot along the Big Carp River. It was another perfect day walking through amazingly old forest. Once again we had no challenging wildlife encounters. Next we followed the Big Carp River Trail up to the escarpment. The weather was clear and except for a little haze, the views were superb. We spent the entire afternoon relaxing at our campsite on the edge of the bluff. We watched 3 peregrine falcons and a bald eagle riding the thermals. While walking by myself on the trail along the rim toward evening, I surprised a bald eagle that was roosting in a small tree at the top of the cliff. He was less than 6 feet away from me. I am very near sighted, so this was incredible treat for me. I never expected to be so close to such a magnificent bird in the wild. After a memorable moonrise, we went to bed only to be awakened by our only encounter with a bear for our entire trip (with the exception of the one we saw walking along US 51 on our drive north). While we were asleep a bear came and tried to get into our food. We could hear him grunting and batting around our bear canisters. He left disappointed and the last of our food was safe. The sunrise the next morning was every bit as spectacular as we had been told to expect. We hiked back to the trailhead in the morning. This was our first trip to the Porkies and we will definitely be returning.
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